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Domestic Violence: The Transmission of Trauma in Selected Twentieth Century Homefront Narratives Open Access

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Domestic Violence traces the inter-subjective transmission of trauma between combatants and noncombatants in a selection of twentieth century texts concerning some of the United States' historically relevant wars, including the Civil War, the Great War, the Second World War, and the Vietnam War. Collapsing the usually opposed spheres of homefront and war front, I argue that noncombatants suffer varying levels of trauma exposure. As witnesses to, spectators of, and sometimes participants in war those on the homefront experience the violent and traumatizing effects of wartime in meaningful and complicated ways. The subject of this project is a study of their direct and indirect exposure to trauma. Using this theoretical framework, I trace the depictions of trauma in a selection of homefront narratives, namely Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, Willa Cather's One of Ours, James Jones's Whistle, William Wyler's The Best Years of Our Lives, the cartoons of Bill Mauldin, and Tim O'Brien's In the Lake of the Woods. This diverse sampling of narratives allows me to consider the myriad ways individuals and communities suffer from and react to extreme trauma. I examine the means by which subjects cope with trauma, and consider whether these coping strategies often result in more traumas. Such evidence allows me to consider how trauma might be contagious or sharable. Moreover, this project explores the precarious and threatening ways in which these wars have been re-imagined or re-scripted as part of nation building exercises.

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